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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Otis Griffin Claims Robbery in Idaho, Files Protest

Otis Griffin is filing a protest with the Idaho State Athletic Commission after his split decision defeat to Shawn Hawk on Oct. 20. Here's a copy of the scorecard from that night. (click to enlarge)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Grading Trent Baalke's Drafts Among the Great (and Not So Great) Ones of Niner Past

It's year two of the Trent Baalke Era in San Francisco, and while the 49ers are 5-1, many have attributed the success (and rightfully so) to the on-field leadership of Jim Harbaugh.

Still, the general manager (pictured, right) deserves his share of credit for actually hiring Harbaugh (although let's be straight, it's a small share since everyone and their mother knew the coach was the object of the much-maligned Yorks' desire, with the fact that Baalke shared the same agent as Harbaugh being a major factor in his promotion to GM).

So far, Baalke has overseen two drafts in the 49ers' War Room, and the final judgment of his picks evolves on the field with each passing game.

How has he done? With a bit of Niner history in mind, I decided to compare his 2010 and 2011 bounties with those of his predecessors, whether good (2000), bad (2005), or ugly (every single day of the Terry Donahue regime).

Let's start with the idea that there's a difference between awful, bad, solid, good, very good, and great drafts. Of course, this was a late-night blog, so please excuse the lack of grammatical detail.

AN AWFUL draft yields 0 Pro Bowlers, maybe 1 starter, and 1-2 contributors. Plus, the starter might just be a placeholder until they find someone better. EXAMPLE: 1992 Draft had a starter in safety Dana Hall (who would soon be replaced by Tim McDonald), and 1 contributor in Mark Thomas (who would be booted to Carolina three yrs later as a 4th-string DT). See 2002-03 Drafts for further reference.

A BAD draft yields MAYBE 1 Pro Bowler (but usually not), 1 more starter, and 1-2 contributors. But the starter is just a placeholder until they find someone better. EXAMPLE: The 2005 Draft yielded a Pro Bowl RB in Gore, but also an unproductive and overpaid starter in QB Alex Smith, as well as 2 contributors (OLs David Baas, Adam Snyder). The 2008 version would fit this mold, too. Chilo Rachal starts, but he's more of a placeholder at guard, and Josh Morgan is a contributing backup at WR who's only starting because Braylon Edwards has not lived up to expectations. The rest stunk, including DT Kentwan Balmer. 2004 is panning out that way, with a Pro Bowler in punter Andy Lee, a serviceable starter in DT Isaac Sopoaga, and a contributor in CB Shawntae Spencer, who's now 3rd-string (not to mention a bust in WR Rashaun Woods).

A SOLID draft yields MAYBE 1 Pro Bowl player OR at least 2 more competent starters instead AND 2 contributors. EXAMPLE: The 1990 Draft had the Pro Bowler (CB Eric Davis), 1 more starter (DE Dennis Brown), and 2 contributors (KR/PR Dexter Carter, OT Frank Pollack). Another instance would be the 2001 Draft, which didn't have a Pro Bowler, but 3 good starters in DE Andre Carter, RB Kevan Barlow, and LB Jamie Winborn, along with contributors like TE Eric Johnson and WR Cedrick Wilson.

A GOOD draft yields 1 Pro Bowl player + at least 2 more competent starters, and at least 1-2 contributors (either backups or STers). EXAMPLE: Walsh's 2000 Draft had the Pro Bowler (LB Julian Peterson) and 4 competent starters (CB Ahmed Plummer, DE John Engelberger, CB Jason Webster, safety John Keith) along with 3 contributors (LB/ST Jeff Ulbrich, backup QB Tim Rattay, LS Brian Jennings). In this era the 2006 Draft fits that bill, with 1 Pro Bowler (TE Vernon Davis), 2 starters (LBs Manny Lawson and Parys Haralson), and 2 contributors (backups like TE Delanie Walker and RB Michael Robinson).

A VERY GOOD draft yields 2 or more Pro Bowl players (with one possibly but not necessarily being Hall of Fame caliber), 2-3 more competent starters, and 1-2 contributors. EXAMPLE: the 1994 Draft yielded 2 Pro Bowlers (DT Bryant Young, LB Lee Woodall), 3 starters (FB William Floyd, kicker Doug Brien, and CB Tyronne Drakeford), and 2 contributors (Anthony Peterson and Kevin Mitchell were both backup LBs/STers). Can you honestly say the 2010-11 Drafts come even close to this level? Hell no.

A GREAT draft yields everything above with around 2 or more Pro Bowl players being Hall of Fame caliber or game-changers during their primes if they fall short of that. EXAMPLE: The hallowed 1986 Draft where Bill Walsh pulled in 4 Pro Bowlers (LB/DE Charles Haley who is looking at Canton potentially, WR John Taylor, RB Tom Rathman, OT Steve Wallace) and 4 starters (DE Larry Roberts, DE Kevin Fagan, CB Tim McKyer, and CB Don Griffin). THAT is one of the all-time gold standards of drafts and what I would actually consider to be GREAT.

Now let's look at Baalke's first draft last year.

1-Davis - Unless he turns it around, looking like a BUST right now.
1-Iupati - Good pick and a no-brainer.
2-Mays - BUST, and I'll admit I was wrong. I thought he'd be a good pro.
3-Bowman - Coming into his own. Good pick.
6-Dixon - OK but he just lost his job to Hunter. So-so.
6-Byham - Out for the year.
7-Williams- 2 catches, but 7th rder. Wash.
OVERALL - TWO good picks and one SOLID one...not a bad draft, but outstanding either

Based on that rubric, the 2010 Draft yielded a guy who has the POTENTIAL to make a Pro Bowl in guard Mike Iupati but hasn't done it yet, 2 starters in OT Anthony Davis (who is showing signs of bust) and an emerging LB in Navorro Bowman, in addition to a decreasing contributor in backup RB Anthony Dixon. That's somewhat solid.

Now for draft number two out of the mind of Baalke this year.

1-Smith - Becoming a sack machine. Good pick.
2-Kaepernick - Hasn't played so we can't tell yet. I liked the pick and even commented on him in one of your own notes BEFORE the draft.
3-Culliver - So far, solid pick. Has come in and contributed.
4-Hunter - Great pick for the value, has unseated Dixon.
5-Kilgore - Not much yet
6-Johnson - No longer with team
6-Jones - In and out of roster
7-Miller - Jury's out, but looking good so far opening holes for the ground game
7-Person - See above
7-Holcomb - See above

The 2011 Draft has a good pick in LB Aldon Smith, a starter in FB Bruce Miller, solid contributors in converted CB Chris Culliver and backup RB Kendall Hunter, and we're still waiting on the rest to get a shot (backup QB Colin Kaepernick and WR Kyle Williams). By the way, none of the guys I named in that '11 class DON'T EVEN START yet. So give Baalke back-to-back solid grades for now.

To further illustrate my point as far as differentiating solid and good, or good and very good, compare the 49ers 2010 Draft with the Patriots' 2010 Draft, whom the 49ers had not ONE, but TWO picks ahead of:

1-McCourty (Pro Bowl With 27th pick)
2-Gronkowski (leads all AFC TEs in rec, TDs, yds now)
2-Cunningham (contributor as backup DE)
2-Spikes (starting MLB)
3-Price (3rd string WR, bust right now)
4-Hernandez (2nd among AFC TEs in rec, TDs, yds to...Gronkowski)
5-Mesko (starting P)
THE REST- not on depth chart

1 Pro Bowler, 1 starter who should be a Pro Bowler in Gronkowski this year (but hasn't done it yet), another 2 starters in Spikes and Mesko, and 2 more contributors in Hernandez and Cunningham. Not saying the Niners' draft should be THIS awesome, but THAT is good to very good.

Or how about the Steelers 2010 Draft, which is what would qualify in my book as a "good" draft?

1-Pouncey (Pro Bowl with 18th pick, who like McCourty was both behind Davis and Iupati)
2-Worilds (starting OLB)
3-Sanders (3rd string WR...a contributor at best)
4-Gibson (not on depth chart, bust for now)
5-Scott (starting LT)
6-Butler (not on depth chart)
6-Sylvester (James Farrior's backup at ILB, contributor)
6-Dwyer (not on depth chart)
7-Brown (Hines Ward's backup, contributor slightly)

That's 1 Pro Bowler, 2 starters, and 2 (maybe 3) contributors. THAT'S a good draft with potential to be very good down the line, just not yet. No projections on what they might do. This is the snapshot of that draft RIGHT NOW. Do either of Baalke's two drafts stack up with this? Not quite.

If the Steelers and Patriots are too successful for your tastes, let's dig a little deeper. One franchise in a similar situation to the Niners is Seattle, a team the Niners somehow went neck and neck with last year before losing the West and a playoff spot to. Here's their 2010 draft, which offers a decent comparison since they had 2 first rounders like Baalke did.

1-Okung (starting LT)
1-Thomas (starting FS)
2-Tate (2nd string WR, contributor, picked after Mays)
4-Thurmond (starting CB)
4-Wilson (cut)
5-Chancellor (starting SS)
6-McCoy (2nd string TE, contributor)
6-Davis (off depth chart)
7-Konz (off depth chart)

That's 4 starters and 2 contributors, compared with the Niners' 3 starters and 1 contributor, so I think it's pretty comparable, if not superior to Baalke's with SIMILAR environments. Only Chancellor is a placeholder starter since he just won the job last year. Before you whine that Okung was 5th overall, Anthony Davis was drafted ahead of Earl Thomas.

To summarize, Baalke has been adequate, and to be honest, solid isn't chopped liver, but it's not the same as above average or outstanding. Harbaugh is proving he is a good coach on the verge of being very good in the near future with what looks like a run at a division title and the postseason, but Baalke?

Outside the draft, he's made a couple winning deals in free agency or the trade market (KR/PR Ted Ginn, CB Carlos Rogers), but a few clunkers as well so far (a calculated one in Edwards). As far as the draft is concerned, you see above.

While Baalke's showing he's better than the abject failure Terry Donahue, he's got a long way to go to show he can build a team from the ground like a Ted Thompson or Thomas Dimitroff, much less that he has the stuff of legends like Bill Walsh, Bill Polian, or even Ron Wolf.

Harbaugh's running away with NFC Coach of the Year now, and since no one's really talking about Baalke, it's probably a sign that he will continue to be evaluated and scrutinized for the raw or veteran talent he brings Mr. Handshake, because for the 49ers to make the jump from playoff contender to Super Bowl champion, they're going to need a bit more than a very good coach who is complemented by a very solid general manager. He's a work-in-progress that we will continue to monitor.

Now I ask you. Where would you grade Baalke's two draft classes?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Vences, Miller Win Bronze Medals at National PAL

By Ryan Maquiñana

San Jose’s Andy Vences could not recover from an early deficit to Toka Kahn Clary of Providence, R.I., falling 24-16 in Friday night’s lightweight semifinals of the National PAL in Toledo, Ohio, earning a bronze medal in the process.

“He got his timing down good,” Vences admitted. “He was a southpaw and he stayed on the inside.”

Vences could not control the tempo, and it ended up becoming his undoing after winning his first two bouts in the tournament.

“[Clary] was catching me during moments where I would throw and when my guard was open, he caught me between my gloves,” Vences shared. “He’s very technical.”

The score was 8-3 in favor of Clary after one round, and 18-9 heading into the third and final frame, when Vences finally mustered some offense. Unfortunately, it was too little, too late.

“In the third round, I gave him a hard time with more pressure, but I should’ve been doing that from the beginning,” Vences lamented. “Once he realized he was up, he was playing keep-away.”

2011 has allowed Vences to stuff his trophy case, with gold medals in the California Golden Gloves and the National Adidas Tournament in the light welterweight division.

Now adding a bronze medal from the National PAL, Vences will now hope to qualify for next year’s Olympics by winning the USA Boxing National Championships in the spring at his new division of 132 pounds.

“I feel strong at 132,” Vences said. “Finishing with the bronze, it’s been a big year. I’m looking forward to Nationals next year and hopefully still get that Olympic spot.”

Meanwhile, in the women’s middleweight division, San Francisco’s Raquel Miller lost in the semifinals, but when her conqueror, Andrecia Wasson of Centerline, Mich., won gold, it was reason to celebrate.

Wasson’s win yielded a third-place finish for Miller and allowed her to qualify for next spring’s Olympic Trials.

“I’m really proud of her,” Miller’s coach, Ben Bautista of SFC Boxing said. “Her hard work and dedication paid off in the gym. Now we have to focus on making the Olympics.”

Stay tuned later this week for a feature on Miller’s momentous achievement.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Nonito Donaire asks the fans to attend his public workout tomorrow!

Nonito Donaire, No. 1 in's Northern California pound-for-pound rankings and No. 4 in the world in Ring Magazine's pound-for-pound list, will hold a public workout at the Undisputed Gym in San Carlos, CA, at 1 p.m. PST.

Donaire will spar six rounds with junior featherweight Jamal Parram and six more with another fighter to be named. There will be giveaways, food, and a chance to meet the "Filipino Flash" afterward.

Video shot by Ryan Maquiñana of

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Road Warrior Vences Marches to National PAL Semis

By Ryan Maquiñana

Despite drawing hometown hero Sonny Frederickson Jr., San Jose’s Andy Vences went into hostile territory to secure a 25-16 decision in the National PAL lightweight quarterfinals Thursday night in Toledo, Ohio.

“It was crazy in there,” Vences said. “I had to stay focused because every time he did anything, even if it didn’t land, the crowd would start yelling. Luckily I was able to keep my composure again and perform.”

Accumulating another early lead helped the South Bay fighter’s cause. At the end of the first round, Vences went ahead 9-2.

“I didn’t cruise, though,” he said. “I had to keep working hard and picking my shots. He kept coming forward and flailing wildly, so this time I talked with Ben [Bautista], my coach for this tournament, and he said to take a quick step back to set up my punches. I think I hurt him a couple times.”

Vences enters the final four in the 132-pound division. Tomorrow in the semifinals, he draws Toka Kahn Clary of Providence, R.I., the silver medalist at this year’s USA Boxing National Championships.

“I watched his last fight,” Vences said. “I think I’ll be able to beat him. He’s not a hard puncher. Hopefully the next time we talk, it will be before the finals.” was still waiting for Thursday results for two other fights involving Northern California amateurs.

Sacramento bantamweight Ramon Ayala had a quarterfinal battle with another Toledo native, Travon Smith. In the female tournament, San Francisco's Raquel Miller faced off against Andrecia Wasson of Centerline, Mich., in a semifinal bout.

Ryan Maquiñana is the boxing correspondent at Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. He’s a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and Ring Magazine’s Ratings Advisory Panel. E-mail him at, check out his blog at or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Vences Advances to Quarterfinals of National PAL

By Ryan Maquiñana

San Jose’s Andy Vences had little trouble with Javar Jones of Anderson, Ind., in the round of 16 at the National PAL tournament, winning by wide decision on Tuesday night, 20-7.

“I kept picking my shots the whole fight,” Vences said ringside from Toledo, Ohio. “I wanted to stop him, but I kept my composure and kept boxing him.”

The reigning California Golden Gloves champion at light welterweight (141 pounds), Vences descended nine pounds to lightweight in hopes that his size advantage would pay dividends.

“I felt solid, real strong,” he said. “I noticed a difference right away because my opponents feel smaller and don’t punch as hard with their power shots.”

Now comes a date on Thursday with Sonny Frederickson Jr., who is from Toledo and will enjoy a marked hometown advantage.

“He’s going to have a lot of people supporting him, so I can’t leave any doubt,” Vences said. “Since I have to fight until Saturday if I go all the way, I conserved my energy today. Not for this one. I’m going to put it on him.”

Ryan Maquiñana is the boxing correspondent at Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. He’s a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and Ring Magazine’s Ratings Advisory Panel. E-mail him at, check out his blog at or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.